Last month, Sega celebrated the 30th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog in honor of the gaming icon. During their 30th Anniversary Livestream, the company announced a number of projects in development, including the upcoming video game Sonic Origins. Scheduled to be released in 2022, this compilation will feature all of the mainline titles from the Classic Sonic era, which includes Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. In honor of the Blue Blur’s legacy, we’re taking a look back at the Classic Era to reflect on what made Sonic the hero he is today.
Gotta go fast? Not so…quickly.
Modern critics and players alike point to “what they perceive to be a paradox at the heart of Sonic‘s gameplay.” If you’re supposed to go fast, why does the series relentlessly punish you for doing so? But while it’s true that Sonic’s marketing focused on the character’s primary power – his speed – Sonic is not a game about going fast, at least not from the word go. Rather, Sonic is about momentum.
In an era where replayability is undervalued – where video games are designed to be played once, to accommodate players with backlogs a mile high – it’s understandable why Sonic’s old-school game design doesn’t always appeal to modern tastes. But Sonic rewards the dedicated player’s mastering of the series’ complex physics and mechanics with speed. When you get good, you go fast. But the game is also easy to pick up and play. New players can get by taking their time and hanging onto life through collecting copious amounts of Rings
If you’re new to the series and want to understand why so many love the Classic Era, check out Sonic Mania. Not only is it a joyous love letter to the days of yore, its Time Attack mode enables you to easily practice zones to get a better feel for the controls. After all, Sonic doesn’t handle like your typical platformer!
Cocky, quippy, and at times impatient, Classic Sonic is ’90s ’tude personified. What you see is what you get. But behind the Blue Blur’s witty remarks and daredevil antics lies a heart of gold. Dude just wants to live free as the wind and protect the freedom of others. If only Doctor Eggman would stop trying to take over the world. As times have changed, so too has the character, but Sonic’s core appeal has always been his enduring and endearing confidence.
On top of that, the character design itself knocks it out of the park. Drawing from principles established in early animation, Sonic’s designer Naoto Ohshima created a character who conveys spunk and action – those quills! – while also being incredibly adorable and marketable. Sonic’s style and appearance eloquently matches his personality and gameplay through the art of visual language.
Sonic fan opinions about its many, many titles vary widely. What one fan cites as the series’ magnum opus, another dismisses as broken trash. But one thing most Sonic fans agree on is the music. In short, it’s almost always amazing. If you missed it, be sure to check out the Sonic 30th Anniversary Symphony concert.
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